Updates from March, 2012 Toggle Comment Threads | Keyboard Shortcuts

  • ivanildotrindade 10:10 pm on March 9, 2012 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Atheism, Berlinski, David Berlinski, Existence of God, , , Richard Lewontin, Sam Harris, science debunks religion, the devil's delusion   

    A secular Jew takes Richard Dawkins to school 

    Give credit to whom deserves credit. An atheist friend of mine recommended me a book. Do you have atheist friends? I do! It’s The Devil’s Delusion by David Berlinski. The subtitle should say all: “Atheism and its scientific pretensions.” Dr. Berlinski has the academic credentials and he also has no pretensions of being a believer. He calls himself a “secular Jew,” but proceeds to build a very convincing case against the idea that somehow “science” has debunked religion or that scientific discoveries have made it impossible to believe in the possibility of God.

    This book is a must read whether you agree with the premises or not. Basically, he is reacting to popular writers, such as Sam Harris, Richard Dawkins and others, who are among the most militant atheists and who have no use for God or religion. On the contrary, they see believers as a danger to the progress of society, a group that must be closely scrutinized, and if possible, silenced. And they believe science is on their side, and have made millions writing about it.

    It is against the idea of science delivering the fatal blow to religion that this books comes out swinging. Already in the first chapter, Dr. Berlinski sharpens his intellectual saber. He says, “Confident assertions by scientists that in the privacy of their chambers they have demonstrated that God does not exist have nothing to do with science and even less to do with God’s existence.”

    He highlights the two ideas that are at play here: “The first is that there is something answering to the name of science. The second is that something answering to the name of science offers sophisticated men and women a coherent vision of the universe. The second claim is false if the first claim is. And the first claim is false. Nothing answers to the name of science…” And he uses the next 225 pages to demonstrate how inconsistent and plagued by interpretation the “scientific” scheme is. And how this scheme cannot utter one iota of information that is for certain about the existence of God.

    The book in meteoric is its assertions and thus has received criticism from the militant camp. It’s been called “incendiary” and “polemical writing,” but it is a fascinating and sometimes even funny book, if you like dry humor and quaint words. I am loving it so far. Just to give you one example of Dr. Berlinski’s indictment against the premises of the new high priests of scientific revelation, he quotes the geneticist Richard Lewontin: “We take the side of science in spite of the patent absurdity of some of its constructs…in spite of its failures to fulfill any of its extravagant promises of health and life, in spite of the tolerance of the scientific community for unsubstantiated just-so stories.” And why do we do that, he asks. Well, Mr. Lewontin responds, “we cannot allow a Divine Foot in the door.” And it only gets better from here.

    And who would have thunk that we would have to turn to a secular Jew to offer us a spirited defense of the “religious thought and sentiment”? Nothing surprises me anymore!

    Ivanildo C. Trindade

     
  • ivanildotrindade 8:17 pm on March 7, 2012 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: gone viral, , , , Martin Niemöller, , Yad Vashem   

    The devil has a clone 

    A video has gone viral on YouTube, FB and other social media. It is a minute documentary made by Jason Russell for “Invisible Children” and it features Joseph Kony, the leader of the Lord’s Resistance Army in Uganda. To give you an idea of how this movie has gone wild,  Michael Geheren, blogger for  The Huffington Post, has stated: “The 27-minute video was posted on Vimeo and YouTube by Invisible Children and became a worldwide trending topic on the Internet. Personally, I have never seen an outpour of support from people on my Facebook news feed like this.” He is right, the re-posting of this link has been nothing short of amazing. So what’s the hoopla and why should you care?

    First of all, if you are a Christian, this man is a travesty to the name of Christ. He mixes spiritualist beliefs with pagan and Christian thoughts and he claims to have direct authority from the Almighty Himself. He misuses Scriptures to advance his own evil causes. If he is not the devil himself, he must be his clone. “Kony is the devil’s clone” — it does sound like a jingle, doesn’t it?

    Secondly, if you have children and they are blessed to have been born in freedom, you should care. This man has personally been responsible for the kidnapping and brain washing of almost 70,000 children, and he has forced them to fight for him, often killing all their family members (or forcing the children to do so) in order that they might have no one to go back to.

    So you should lend your voice for at least two reasons: 1.out of outrage for this horrendous evil being visited upon small children; 2.out of thankfulness for the fact that your children more than likely will never cross paths with someone like this evil man.

    You may have a thousand reasons not to do anything, even after you read the above, but if I can give you just one reason, I would like to say that you should speak because in this world you never know when it is the last chance you will have to speak against a grave injustice. Remember the famous quote, attributed to German theologian and pastor Martin Niemöller, now inscribed on the walls of Yad Vashem in Jerusalem:

    “First they came for the communists,
    and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a communist.

    Then they came for the trade unionists,
    and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a trade unionist.

    Then they came for the Jews,
    and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a Jew.

    Then they came for me
    and there was no one left to speak out for me.”

    “God, I ask you to bring down this impersonation of evil who attends to the name of Joseph Kony; may he experience the severity of the degradation and the suffering he has inflicted upon countless children and their families; may he wander restlessly and aimleslys until he has come face-to-face with the understanding of the devastation he has caused. May he be left alone and desinherited in this world. And please don’t allow any more children to fall prey to his satanic ploys.”

    Ivanildo C. Trindade

     
  • ivanildotrindade 4:23 pm on March 6, 2012 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: angry boys, bringing up boys, , school shootings, troubled youth   

    Boys are easily breakable 

    Boys are easily breakable, and not so easily “mendable.” They are demonstrably more immature than girls in general and can experience ups and downs with more regularity. For the longest time they try to live up to the expectation of being tough when inside they are so vulnerable. One person, one tragedy, one love gone wrong can totally suspend the course of their lives and turn anger from a guest to a resident inside their soul.

    Joe (not his real name) is 10 or 11. He has three strikes against him: 1. He is Chinese; 2. He lost his father to cancer about three years ago; 3. He is an incredibly smart kid. The other day I saw him in church and asked how he was doing in school. “Good,” he said, “except that the kids bully me all the time.” I asked him, “What do you mean?” “Well,” he said, “they call me ‘weird’ and say names and stuff about me.” “Have they been physically rough with you?” I asked. “Sometimes,” he said. I told him to tell a teacher or a school official any time he felt threatened, and to avoid being alone with the boys who do that. He said he was doing that.

    I was amazed that this boy was talking to me about his personal life, but then I remembered, “He doesn’t have a father and he probably doesn’t have anyone to talk to him about these things.” I told him to continue to study hard. “One day you will be ahead of all these people who are making fun of you today.” He said, “I am already the top student in my class by far.” I told him how proud I was of him. And I said that he can talk to me any time about these things.

    I am not trying to make myself be something I am not here. Truth be told, I am sure that most of the time I have failed to seize the moment to encourage a young child who feels alone and confused. I have no doubt I failed my own children many times. And so many of these missed opportunities are now gone forever and that makes me sad.

    I remember the funeral of that boy’s father. There weren’t too many people there. He was an engineer at an automotive company. I barely knew the family but decided to go anyway because my neighbor, who is also Chinese and goes to my church, had made a point of letting me know what was happening. Funerals are always sad ordeals but funerals for people who die away from home in a foreign country are doubly sad. And I remember that boy and his older sister. I am sure they were the loneliest people in that room.

    School teachers and administrators need to take another look at boys. They should try to know their history. Do they have a father and a mother? Are they both living with them? Do they have someone to talk to? Are any of their parents serving time in jail now? Do they have older siblings? Are their drugs in the home? Has their short life already been marked by tragedy?

    I know the same could be done about girls, but the fact of the matter is that troubled boys are the ones pulling the triggers in schools, not girls. And don’t tell me that these questions are intrusive, that they invade people’s privacy, etc., etc. I am willing to guess that more lives could have been saved if people were a little more willing to probe.

    Of course, in the process of doing this, mistakes will be made. This week, for example, we read about a father who was arrested in Toronto because his daughter drew a picture of a man carrying a gun and she said something to the teacher about her dad killing “bad guys” with it (I may not be getting all the details here). While the media is coming down hard on the teacher, I am more sympathetic to her. Wish more people would be vigilant like that. To read the story, go here. You will probably agree with me that if there is someone at fault here it is the authorities for using excessive force and intimidation. But again I don’t know if in Canada someone is presumed innocent until proven guilty.

    At any rate, I tell everybody out there: treat your boys with tenderness and remember how easily they break. And if you ever do anything to contribute to breaking a boy, remember that it may take all the rest of us to try to “unbreak” him. Love your boy, hug him every day and tell him it is okay to cry sometimes. And if you know a lonely boy in your circle of influence, reach out to him today. It won’t take you long to see that you can make a huge difference.

    Ivanildo C. Trindade

     
  • ivanildotrindade 5:19 pm on March 5, 2012 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: bad examples, bullying, , grandparenting, , pouncing on the weak, , T. J. Lang   

    Bullying does not start in the school yard 

    Stories. What are their values if not to teach us something about ours or other people’s characters? Yes, some are funny, some can entertain, but if they can’t teach something for us to imitate or avoid, they are useless tales. In my book, anyway. So let me share a few with you this week.

    A friend of mine tells me about his mother-in-law. She goes to a nice hotel with his family and while there she hits the pool with the grandchildren. The kids immediately set their sides on a couple of noodles they must have to play with in the pool, but there is one problem — the noodles are not available. They are currently being in possession of another set of little kids who are happily playing with their young father, who happens to be Asian.

    The kids go to grandma and demand to have those noodles. Now what would you do if you were the grandma in question? Any sensible person would call the kids and tell them to wait their turn, right? You would probably say something like, “Look, they got here before we did, and they got the toys. We must wait until they are done or if they lose interest, we can ask whether we might use them.”

    Not this grandmother, though. She tells the children to go to the corner where the happy kids are and start making noise, splashing water “and you will see how quickly they will leave the pool.” This reminded me of a friend from Israel who married a Brazilian lady. He told me that whenever he got stopped by the Highway Patrol for some violation — over there they take you to a little office along the road — he would order his kids to get out of the car, and mess with everything inside the little office — bathrooms, telephones, scissors, you name it. Soon the frustrated policeman would tell him to go away and take his little devils with him!

    Back to my friend’s story. Sure enough, after a little while, the exasperated family upped and left the pool, leaving the precious noodles to the “victors.” The grandmother, upon seeing this, began to celebrate in a loud voice, saying, “Didn’t I tell you? They left! It works every time!” Not quite. The family that was there first could have complained. They could have gone to management. Or, they could be the owners of the noodles!

    So the grandmother was not only teaching her grandchildren that bullying is cool, she was also saying that it always works. She was affirming in no uncertain terms that the world is to the strongest and you can always bet that the ones less familiar with the game will back away. She was shouting to her grandchildren that intimidation is better than communication and worse of all, she was training them to ridicule those who had been unjustly treated, as if they were to be faulted for breaking under pressure.

    I submit to you that this Grandmother was laying the groundwork for the making of violent people. Worse yet: her behavior is the garden where many criminal minds were planted. She ought to have her head examined and I would be willing to scream that in her ears.

    So here is my final question: did T. J. Lang ever have a grandmother or an adult-figure who behaved like that in his dark past? I am willing to bet he did! Sadly.

    Ivanildo C. Trindade

     
  • ivanildotrindade 11:26 pm on March 1, 2012 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: baha'is, burning the koran, chinese government, Falun Gong, Iran, , karaite jews, , preaching hatred, religious hatred, religious minorities, sephardic jews, Sufism, tibetan buddhists, uighur, zoroastrians   

    Burning the Koran is unintelligent 

    To be sure, Christians are not the only religious minority being persecuted around the world. In Chinese, the Falun Gong followers have experienced the ire, violence and irrationality of the Chinese establishment. The practices against this group are abhorrent. In China the Uighur (Muslim minority) suffer great persecution. In fact, just today we read of about 20 Uighur who were killed by police in the Xijiang Province. Now the police claims that this was a violent mob attacking civilians, but it is a known fact that the Chinese government is notorious for treating this group harshly because of their independence stance and refusal to assimilate to Chinese ways. (For a different view on how the Chinese government is accommodating to the Muslims in China, go here). Of course the oppression of Tibetan Buddhist is also an undeniable fact of our times.

    In the case of “Sufism,” a mystic brand of Islam, the persecution comes from all sides. Both Sunni and Shia persecute Sufis, whether in India, Pakistan, the Middle East or Iran. In India Sufism has been basically eradicated and violent attacks by Muslim extreme groups continue almost on a daily basis. Iran persecutes Baha’is and throughout history Muslims have persecuted Christians who have persecuted Zoroastrians who have persecuted Zoroastrians splinter groups.  In ancient times the Sephardic Jews were expelled from Catholic Spain but before that happened the Rabbinical Jews expelled the Karaite Jews from Spain. And the circle of hate goes on and on.

    I don’t know about you but I get so tired of “religious wars.” I know that the “war” for those of us who live in the West is mostly one of words, but for many people in other countries it is a matter of life and death and somehow it must stop. That is why I get so infuriated whenever I hear anyone talking about burning the Koran. How can anyone be so stupid? Just today we learned about more troops being killed in Afghanistan over what has been called an “accidental” burning of copies of the Koran. How can you burn copies of the Koran “accidentally” in a military base? I am not buying. At the same time, I cannot condone the violence. But I do understand that for Muslims burning the Koran would be like burning the incarnate Christ for Christians. But how many people get that? I wouldn’t kill for Christ, because he would be slightly against it (:)), but I would raise a hell of a stink.

    So I offer these posts over the last couple of days as tools to help us understand better what is going on in our world. I remain vehemently opposed to violence and I wish preachers of religion would refrain from encouraging people to other human beings just because they are different. Nothing could be more contrary to the teaching of Jesus.

    Ivanildo C. Trindade

     
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